Yoga and Love
By: Andrea Beyke
As part of the Pomeroy Wellness Program, I’ve been attending yoga for the past two weeks. I am by no means a master Yogi. In fact, I’m pretty shaky at best, but I keep going! It’s usually a good release for me, and a time for me to be in touch with my body and my breathing.
While some may say differently, I say that our bodies and our spirits are so closely connected, it’s difficult to say when one begins and one ends. In fact, this teaching goes all the way back to St. Thomas Aquinas who says that a person is both body and soul. Therefore, it only makes sense that if we tend to one, we also tend to the other. As we tend to our spirits, we must also take time to tend to our bodies. Personally, I find prayer and movement very interconnected. I always find my best prayer time as I’m moving – walking, running, moving forward somehow. Maybe it’s because I can feel progress. Or maybe it’s because I become more keenly aware of my breath – and how God is as close to me as my breath. In fact, God IS the fundamental breath of life– the Holy Spirit dwelling within me.
But this week, I must reveal that I noticed something a little different about myself at yoga. When we initiated a new position, our bodies first had to adjust to this distribution of weight. Our arms were pulled inward, focused on finding our own balance. Once our balance was found, we opened our arms, leaving our torso exposed and ourselves vulnerable. This extended stance was the desired position, the position that we held, and the position that stretched us the most.
In thinking about this some more, I find it a great analogy for love. We search for self-acceptance and work on loving ourselves. Then, at some point, we turn outward and choose to be vulnerable to others. We understand that by doing this, we open ourselves to pain and suffering, but we also open ourselves to the wonderful experience of happiness, love, and joy. This is where we are meant to reside. This is the position that we are meant to hold. This is when we feel the best stretch. Does it mean that we can’t look inward again for ways in which to love ourselves? Absolutely not. In fact, we should check ourselves every once in a while for balance. But God created us out of love to be loving creatures. Our natural position is one of vulnerability. I am reminded of this quote by C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
In what ways do you make yourself vulnerable to love? What joy has been brought to you because of your vulnerability?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve found that love is always worth it. When I make myself vulnerable, I find my truest self, the person God created me to be, and joy beyond my imagining. Throughout life, you will find that in different situations, there is a need for different virtues: a time for mercy, a time for discipline, a time for chastity, a time for rejoicing, etc. Still, every opportunity is an opportunity for love. There is never a time when love cannot or should not be applied to a situation. Live vulnerably.